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21ST CENTURY STRIKERS

INTRODUCTION

This page looks at the performances of a selection of the world's best strikers of the 21st century.

Charts

1.  Goals Plus Assists Per 90 Minutes by Season for Messi and Ronaldo

2. Best Season Performance for Goals Plus Assists Per 90 Minutes

Data Table

3. Goals Plus Assists Per 90 Minutes Per Season for 2018 Ballon D'Or Nominated Forwards

The rate of goals plus assists over a certain period of play shows the overall effectiveness of a forward more so than just looking at goals.

Argentine forward Lionel Messi is widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time. He won the Ballon d'or a record 6 times. His illustrious career has been spent at Spanish giants Barcelona where he has scored over 600 goals. 

Photo by Christopher Johnson

Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo is considered by many to be one of the greatest players of all time. He won the Ballon d'or 5 times, 2nd only to Messi. His status as one of the greats was undeniably earned during is period at Spanish giants Real Madrid where he won 4 Champions League titles and scored 450 goals in 438 games.

Photo by Christopher Deahr

Licensed under CC BY 2.0

The above graph compares the rate of goals plus assists each season of the the two players considered the greatest of the modern era, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

Lionel Messi's performance in his early years were much stronger than Ronaldo's which reflect his greater natural ability. In his first season he had nearly double the rate of goal plus assists of Ronaldo's first season. Although Ronaldo has become comparable to Messi in goals scored after he moved to Real Madrid often surpassing Messi in this area, Messi continued to have more assists which is why he tends to be higher in the graph in most seasons. In recent seasons, Ronaldo's drop in overall attacking performance is more consistent. Messi actually had one of his best seasons in 2018/2019 in which he had a higher rate than Ronaldo's best season and it was followed by another very strong season. Ronaldo dropped to below 1 in 2018/2019 (rounded on the graph to 1) and has remained so for the next 3 seasons. It is clear that he has declined due to age.

 

Messi's recent season at PSG wasn't his greatest season but it's worth noting that he played as a winger which probably explains why his stat dropped below 1 for the first time in well over a decade although his final season at Barcelona suggests that it may be part of a general decline as well although the evidence is less conclusive than in the case of Ronaldo and we will have to see how Messi performs in the next season to determine for sure. 

DATA TABLE

3. Goals Plus Assists Per 90 Minutes Per Season for 2018 Ballon D'Or Nominated Forwards

Player
2002/2003
2003/2004
2004/2005
2005/2006
2006/2007
2007/2008
2008/2009
2009/2010
2010/2011
2011/2012
2012/2013
2013/2014
2014/2015
2015/2016
2016/2017
2017/2018
2018/2019
Lionel Messi
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.76
0.65
0.94
1.3
1.21
1.51
1.76
1.66
1.32
1.53
1.36
1.42
1.27
1.65
Cristiano Ronaldo
0.42
0.57
0.46
0.55
0.88
1.08
0.79
1.39
1.38
1.38
1.33
1.52
1.61
1.38
1.16
1.27
1.01
Neymar
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.94
0.87
0.81
1.03
N/A
0.95
1.08
1.14
1.04
1.47
1.38
Luis Suarez
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.68
0.98
1.11
1.6
0.9
0.75
1.04
1.39
1.23
1.57
1.34
1.01
0.83
Sergio Aguero
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.52
0.22
0.94
0.9
0.69
0.91
1.09
0.73
1.65
1.15
0.87
1.03
1.14
1.12
Robert Lewandowski
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.73
0.78
0.83
0.59
0.93
1.07
0.88
0.85
1.02
1.19
1.1
1.12
Thomas Muller
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.33
0.71
0.53
0.78
0.87
0.71
1.01
1.01
0.98
1.04
0.78
0.96
0.69
Kylian Mbappe
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
1.37
0.91
1.44
Harry Kane
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.6
0.59
0.74
1.17
0.9
0.67
1.2
1.05
0.83
Mohamed Salah
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.38
0.68
0.49
0.69
0.63
0.61
0.96
1.31
0.83
Karim Benzema
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.90
0.81
0.98
0.7
0.79
1.15
1.33
1.28
0.89
0.91
1.25
0.75
0.64
0.86
Gareth Bale
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.41
0.44
0.13
0.46
0.59
0.73
0.95
1.11
0.65
1.25
0.7
1.07
0.69
Mario Mandzukic
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.44
0.77
0.95
0.71
0.67
0.71
0.82
0.98
0.73
0.64
0.44
0.36
0.59
Edinson Cavani
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
0.25
0.51
0.54
0.94
0.8
1.03
0.82
0.72
0.77
1.2
1.16
1.2
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